Apr 02 2009


If you haven’t seen the Bookends blog lately, there are over 200 comments to their response to the Twitter disaster/phenomenon known as #QueryFail.

Been under a publishing rock?  #Queryfail was the brainchild (or brain fart, depending on your POV) of a Tweeting literary agent.  Other agents signed up and they gave live examples of queries on Twitter and said why they “failed.”  Hence, QueryFail.  The “#” is the way you follow a thread on Twitter.

#QueryFail got tons of negative attention — people saying how agents were blasting poor writers for stupid queries and doing it on the www.  For me I thought it was like preaching to the choir — because the writers on Twitter and reading all the blogs were not the ones making absurd queries and requests.  I believe if you don’t like it, don’t read it.  BUT, people were appalled.  Writers were screaming (virtually of course).

So now there’s a place writers can say all the awful things about agents they want to say.  And I have to tell you that most of them are pretty darned awful.  Not surprisingly, the comments are anonymous and no one is naming particular agents — just referring to “this agent” and “that agent.”  Personally, I’d like to know who this and that are — so I can one day go into the query process with my eyes wide open.  I know there are sites that offer warnings — but this would seem like a fabulous opportunity for writers to out the agents who were rude and made a writer cry at a conference (I saw that several times in the 200 comments), the agents who were drunk and unprofessional (yep, saw that too) and the ones that hold manuscripts for months on end and the ones who consistently lose emails containing fulls and partials.

It’s a bitch session over there, and I feel like it’s a blind one – giving lots of crap without cleaning it up – meaning – there is no substantial information and no way to clean it up or change it.

That being said, I’m going to go back and read more.

11 Responses to “#Agentfail”

  1. By spyscribbler on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    Actually, Jessica went in and deleted a bunch of the comments that named agents. She felt it was unfair to name them directly and said there was a forum for that over at Absolute Write. :-)

    I read a couple comments, but it sounded like a lot of bitterness at being rejected, you know? I got tired and left quickly, LOL!

  2. By Debbie Schubert on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I put in my two cents and not “anonymously” like most. Basically, writers would rather receive a rejection notice than no response at all. The rage in agent-land these days seems to be “we’ll only respond if we’re interested.” This is frustrating, but the way I see it is if I haven’t heard back in eight weeks, I take them off my list. I assume that means “rejection.”

    The thing I found most disheartening were the folks who chimed in about having agents who were, for the most part, MIA. Apparently, there are agents out there who after agreeing to represent you, don’t return your phone calls or keep you informed about what’s going on with trying to sell your book. I’d certainly like to know the names of those folks…

  3. By Amy on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I find a lot of the Absolute Write information very out-of-date, don’t you? Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places. But I’d like to know who is consistently doing the same things – good or bad.

    Amy :-)

  4. By Amy on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I have a friend whose agent is with an old reputable agency in NY, yet she has dragged her feet with my friend’s book for over a year. There were submissions made — also what seemed like very slowly and over a long period of time. Now it’s not my story to tell, which is why I won’t say who it is — but I would never query this agent. My friend has had periods of time — weeks on end — with no email or phone response from this agent. My friend is very patient, and just waits. Now they’re revising their target — but I think it has been months since that was resolved and to the best of my knowledge no new submissions to editors have been made.

    If it were me, I’d withdraw my book from that agent. This behavior is consistent through their 1.5 year relationship. I wouldn’t put up with it, but that’s me. I don’t think the agent is doing her justice, but again, it’s not my story to tell.


  5. By Melanie on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I read the original post but hadn’t looked at the comments. I know all about the hoopla queryfail caused, but it seemed harmless enough to me. I can understand people being upset and I would be horrified if mine was used – perhaps I feel this way because I haven’t queried yet… That said, maybe I’ll have to take a peek at the comments.

  6. By Amy on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I haven’t queried yet either, but I do understand writers wanting to be treated with the same professionalism and respect that agents demand. I am sure most writers and most agents live up to one anothers’ expectations. It’s always a few bad ones on either side that taint the whole industry.



  7. By Erica Orloff on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I thought QueryFail was the rudest thing I had ever seen. WHY . . . why waste the energy/space and so on for pure snark. It was gross and it basically, to me, served no purpose than to provide snark. I “de-friended” a few agents I saw who participated.

    I feel the same way about this agentfail. I have known three or four writers who have badmouthed agents I personally know. In a couple of the cases, I knew the background from both sides and the writers were definitely either not fully aware of how the business works, or had sour grapes when a deal feel through, or whatever. There are always two sides to every story, and giving people an anonymous or near-anonymous way to bash people brings out the worst in them. And while some of your readers have said they’d “like to know who” as far as various agents who did this or that, you would still only be getting one writer’s viewpoint. Unless you KNOW the writer personally, I know enough about cyberspace to realize it’s full on opinions based on little fact or incredible bias, or even trolls. So I don’t think it serves effectively.

    True story . . . when I first got published, there was an actual writer’s thread that attracted some nutjob who filled up comment after comment with lewd remarks about my breasts. Disgusting remarks. And yet–from the people who responded to this man . . . he apparently, to that point, had been a contributing, “normal” writer, but somehow was emboldened by some snark (someone had sniffed the Red Dress Ink was “beneath” him as a publisher) to run wild. People like that are out there, and threads like the “fail#” ones . . . just encourage it.

  8. By Amy on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I guess that’s why the anonymity of all bothers me. I read a bit of QueryFail and it didn’t offend me, I found it stupid. But I also think the people who kept reading and hating and reading and hating were only adding fire to the agents’ fuel.

    The reason that AgentFail bothered me (in a car crash kind of way) was because people were flinging accusations with nothing to back it up. I did go over to Absolute Write this morning and there are NOT 200 comments anywhere regarding any agent. And in that forum people do use the names of agents.

    I felt like it was a dumping ground with no purpose. I have no problem with exposing real problem clients or agents in the right forum – but this was not helpful. But, I did read a large random selection of the comments. The ones that bothered me most were those that said an agent was drunk and rude at a conference – making a writer cry. And there was more than one of those.

    I will say that many chimed in and want an AgentPraise day — and I’m sure that’s next.

    The internet’s anonymity factor can be frightening. I’ve been there myself.


  9. By Val on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    This is a good post Amy because you open up the discussion on some very important aspects of the business of writing, with an emphasis on ‘business’. Agents aren’t a therapist, a mother, a hand holding buddy, although in time they may become a friend. Pure and simple, they are a brokers. They take your work and if they broker you a deal, they take a cut. Period. I agree, if they are using some unethical business practices they should be outed. It’s business and the only thing they should be doing is business. It’s beyond me how all this stuff gets so emotional and fraught with some dysfunctional family dynamic. Is it me, or is it as screwed up as it appears?

  10. By Jenni James on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my agent… and I know a lot of agents are freaking out over this. They’re all reading it too. Believe me they’re twittering about it like crazy. I’m just super grateful my agent doesn’t twitter and that she’s so awesome. I also think that many people forget that agents are people too. They expect them to be superhuman and stuff–which isn’t the case at all. they’re overworked and underpaid just like the rest of us.

  11. By judith coughlin on Apr 2, 2009 | Reply

    Too funny! I agree. It’s like being on the sidelines of a chick fight, can’t stop it, can’t turn away. That being said, there were some good points. I learned a few things, but am still looking forward to the cops coming and breaking up the whole thing.

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